Wellington Scoop

Surfers opposing runway extension, defending Lyall Bay

lyall bay surf
Photo: John Cosgrove

News from WPW
The Surfbreak Protection Society, New Zealand’s national surfers’ environmental organisation, is opposing Wellington Airport’s application for resource consent to extend its runway because of the impact it will have on surfing and the surfing environment on Wellington’s South Coast.

Michael Gunson of the SPS says community groups, local businesses and individuals need to get informed about the proposed extension and what it could mean to their quality of life.

“This project will unfortunately not return the benefits that the Airport and the City Council are promoting. Given the events of the last week, it is even more important that a project of this size, which is heavily reliant on public funding to get it across the line, is put under proper scrutiny. Something that has not happened yet.

“In addition to the worrying economic figures that came out of the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s report last month, saying that the estimated cost of the extension would be $428m but likely to rise to almost $500m, compared to the Airport’s estimation of $300m, SPS are focusing their concerns on the impacts to the surfing at Lyall Bay.

“Both the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council have quietly reported that there will be a complete loss of the Airport Rights surf break as a rare wave break, and The Corner surf break could be reduced by 0.8m in height.

“The Airport’s mitigation plan is to install an artificial swell focus reef but there is insufficient data to prove the safety and effectiveness of this technology.

“There is no proof that this reef can work, and there is no acknowledgement by the Airport that the artificial reef will impact adversely on a number of existing peaks in Lyall Bay, and offers unknown consequences for the remainder.

“The Airport’s consultants DHI are still unable to submit a final design that can avoid impacts on the Corner surf break, at the eastern end of the bay.

“The technical reports lodged with the Airport’s application do not acknowledge the nine or so surf breaks as outstanding natural features that contribute to Lyall Bay’s Natural Character (as recognised in the GWRC Proposed Natural Resources Plan and New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement).

“The Greater Wellington Regional Council has identified and mapped areas of high natural character, a requirement under policy 13.1(c) of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (by mapping or otherwise identifying at least areas of high natural character).

“The Airport have hired a consultant to prescribe that the open coastal waters of Lyall Bay have natural character values of moderate to low, and low to very low, in the areas where Lyall Bay’s surf breaks are present.

“It is the enjoyment, use, experience, and appreciation of Lyall Bay’s features by the local communities in and around the bay which sets the level of natural character and not the Airport’s consultant.”

SPS is urging other Wellington surfers who made submissions on the proposed extension to file their form under section 274 stating they would like to appear in the Environment Court and speak to their submissions.

“We know it can seem complicated but it is important that surfers have their say about the proposal. We would urge people to file the form and speak to their submissions in the Environment Court, it is hugely important that they file their s274 form before the Friday deadline.

“Of the 776 submissions made on the Airport’s resource consent application in August, 525 were opposed to the runway extension. But to speak to that submission, you also need to file a separate form. A form is available at guardiansofthebays.org.nz.”

“Despite the huge majority of local community and environmental groups who are against this proposal, under resourced individuals are having to self-fund the scrutiny that really should have happened at a Council level a long time ago. The Airport received $3m of rate-payers’ money to pull together their application.

“As a national organisation we find it disappointing that it falls to the community to do the research, put forward the resources and engage the expertise to address the serious environmental, social and economic impacts of the proposed runway extension, while the Wellington City Council, whose role it is act in the best interests of their city, are channelling funds to support the big businesses.”

The deadline for filing an s274 form is Friday.

“We strongly urge those who wish to join us in opposing the extension to file their s274 forms as soon as possible.”


Moa Point residents opposing extension


  1. Dr Sea Rotmann, 21. November 2016, 16:50

    It is outrageous that the public has to find the money to fight this after already having millions of ratepayer dollars wasted on this white elephant. Now that even the Infratil CEO is admitting that there is an ‘information gap’ about the economics and cost of the project I really wonder what the $6m and counting to date has been spent on? Certainly NOT proper data collection!

  2. luke, 21. November 2016, 22:33

    i think it’s outrageous a bunch of vocal nimbys can hold up much needed infrastructure.

  3. Andrew, 21. November 2016, 23:35

    Care to quantify ‘much needed’ Luke?

  4. CC, 22. November 2016, 0:01

    I think it’s outrageous that a bunch of vocal frequent flyers consider a runway extension is much needed infrastructure.

  5. Ian Apperley, 22. November 2016, 8:02

    I think it’s outrageous that luke thinks the airport extension is needed

  6. Ryan H., 22. November 2016, 10:13

    Luke, it’s outrageous that you think these consents should not go through a public consultation process. Much needed infrastructure? Whose told you that?

  7. Sandy, 22. November 2016, 10:30

    And it’s outrageous making continuing lazy whines about nimbys without providing a single useful bit of commentary. Let it go, we get your point, Luke.

  8. Morris Oxford, 22. November 2016, 11:32

    I think that Luke is correct in one thing which is to refer to himself with a lower-case “i”.

  9. glenn bond, 22. November 2016, 13:25

    I think its outrageous, that poor old Luke gets shot down, for having an opinion. My two cents worth, I agree with him

  10. luke, 22. November 2016, 14:07

    thanks glenn! i’m used to nimbys and their insults.

  11. Morris O., 22. November 2016, 14:37

    Regarding “nimbys” does anyone know where anyone’s backyard is? Or is Luke just having a crack without actually ‘fessing?

  12. Michael, 22. November 2016, 19:17

    New Zealand is nimby. We should also accept nuclear ships without question and accept the consequences. It is our duty to be beholden to whichever corporate controls us. Following on from that, we must respect the wishes of the Infratil shareholders who wish to expand their asset portfolio at the expense of rate / tax payers. As servants to corporate profit, it is our duty. Profit matters, everything else, is irrelevant.

  13. John, 22. November 2016, 19:43

    Glenn and Luke: stop deflecting the questions as insults, You both insult the majority of those opposed to the extension by playing the victim card while characterising the above commentators as nimbys. Talk to the topic or go home.

  14. glennbond, 23. November 2016, 15:06

    What I get insulted about is people putting words in my mouth. I merely stated that Luke got shot down, on the basis that he disagreed with the so called majority (where you pull this vast majority from I’m not sure). As to his assertion re nimbyism (I assume that’s a word), it strikes me the most vocal opposition comes from (dare I say John) your part of the planet.
    The airport stands on reclaimed land, so why not add to it ?

  15. luke, 23. November 2016, 17:42

    I want a longer runway and in my opinion it will be beneficial.

  16. CC, 23. November 2016, 18:20

    Glenn – you’ve taken liberties in your interpretation of John’s comment. He said “…majority of those opposed to the extension …”. In other words, he considered that less than 50% of those who opposed the extension were comfortable with you and luke playing the victim card. Also, do you have evidence to confirm that all the opposition to the airport extension comes from the area in which John lives? It is probably a safe assumption that nimbys are only a small subset of those who want evidence, not opinions, to convince them that environmental risk and expenditure on corporate welfare is justified.

  17. Jayden, 23. November 2016, 19:43

    Glenn, I think John is referring to the 525 submitters to the WIAL consent application who opposed the extension project as the majority, which contrasts with the 228 who support the project. I think that pretty much indicates a vast majority…

    Luke: I appreciate your “opinion” but that does not override the majority opinions and the science, fiscal, and environmental advice that will undoubtedly overturn the applications. That science will be paid for by the community with hard earned personal income, as opposed to the Council grants which are using ratepayers’ money, the vast majority of which do not want an extension.

  18. Andrew, 23. November 2016, 20:23

    Meanwhile the council are reducing grants for community initiatives that have tangible benefits beyond those of financially supporting the application of a company.